October 7, 2006:
The U.S. Army has ordered another 300 Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder (LLDR) systems, for some $264,000 each. These devices weigh about 35 pounds, and enable an air controller to quickly get the range of a target, for a laser guided bomb, and put a laser beam on the target. The smart bomb homes in on the reflected laser light (of a specified frequency). The LDDR has a day and night (thermal) sight. The system is set up on a tripod, runs off a separate battery and is controlled by a hand held tablet computer. Deliveries will begin in mid-2007, and be complete by the end of 2008. LDDR is the lightest yet such system, and was only put into service after the 2001 Afghan war showed how important a lightweight laser designator system was. The U.S. Army had been developing LDDR since the late 1990s, and finally got the money to build them. The first production models went to Iraq in early 2004, where they proved very successful. This new order is a reflection of that.